I’ve been drafting this post since late December, hoping I’d finish it by New Year’s Day, but obviously that didn’t happen. It’s like I’m stuck and couldn’t get the words out the way I want them to – which is weird because sometimes I do get complimented for being articulate with my thoughts. I guess what you should know is that writing doesn’t happen seamlessly for me. I just have the urge to express my thoughts because my head will keep nudging me to, but that doesn’t mean I could write down exactly what I’m thinking at first go. I’m never satisfied when I first pour out my thoughts; I’d always have to keep going back to edit them. Like right now. The things you read here aren’t first drafts, usually they aren’t second drafts either. My writing only comes out straight because of how much I’m willing to invest my time and energy into them, and I think that’s usually the case with most skills you want to be good at.
Writing is such a big part of me, even though it has taken the back seat most of my life. I never thought I’d want to turn it into a career; it was just something I’d always done, which somehow people told me I’m good at. It was only when I was forced to choose what I’d want to study in university that I actually reflected on all the subjects I’ve been taught in school and what I enjoyed the most. Some people encouraged me to take something mathematics or science related, since my results showed that I was pretty good at them. What they didn’t know was how many exercise books and past year papers I’d practised on to actually get those results. So even if my results tricked others into thinking I was good in those subjects, I knew I couldn’t fool myself. The one thing I only really liked was English. So I took English Literature* and was then introduced to this whole world of writing that I never knew about, and ended up never wanting to go back.
Now that I’ve graduated, I finally understood what they meant when they told me writing isn’t a practical career choice. I also think I understand now why people give up on their dreams. Copywriting pays; scriptwriting doesn’t, at least not when you’re just starting out. If you’ve got bills or student loans to pay, you’re kinda forced to choose something that pays, even if it means setting your dreams aside. It’s just that, for me, I’ve already learnt so much about writing, and already so deep in the rabbit hole that I just want to keep going and keep getting better.
But I’m deathly terrified that my time would be up soon.
I constantly have this almost invisible countdown ticking in my head, reminding me that there’s only so long I can keep pursuing scriptwriting until I’m forced to think about bills. I’m so thankful that I don’t have student loans to pay off and I still live with my parents, because since the day I chose to write scripts as a job, I’d never had any savings. My parents have been so patient with me despite the occasional nagging, but I know if this writing thing really doesn’t get me anywhere, I’d have to reconsider my options.
Honestly, this whole experience has forced me to rethink my whole idea of passion. I’m starting to find motivational quotes about chasing your dreams and never giving up to be quite annoying. Not everyone has the luxury to do what they love for a living, and I don’t think it’s fair to say they’ve given up. I think I’ve only gotten this far partly because for now I can afford to, and also partly because I’m so stubborn and possibly naive. But I wouldn’t recommend it.
Looking back earlier in 2017, I feel like I was in a whole different world. I was in uni directing a play, juggling as editor-in-chief, student editor and creative writing officer for different societies, but now, all of that don’t seem to mean much of anything anymore. I had one of the best times of my life, but it just feels like a dream now.
I’m sorry if this post doesn’t have a positive or uplifting message to it like my other year-end reflections. It’s just that for me, I feel like my year has just started. I’m so new in this field that I’m constantly stressing over trying to make it somewhere, because God knows I really want this to amount to something.
If you’re also a dreamer like myself, I hope you know that you’re not alone in your journey. I guess everyone has to start somewhere, and I hope we both get to where we want to go.
*For those of you who didn’t know, I originally took English Literature in my first year of university with Creative Writing as an elective. I only switched to English with Creative Writing in my second year.
Featured image by Eleonora Lucariello.